Justice John Paul Stevens (1920-2019)

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​I have always been fascinated by the legal system and the law. My whole life, including reading for pleasure has included government, history, and legal issues. I have an analytical and argumentative mind and nothing comes close to both of those attributes more than the law.

In high school my favorite class senior year was Everyday Law, which would most likely be compared to a civics class – what to do if you get pulled over? What are your rights when approached by a polic officer? Your neighbor is infringing on your property, what do you do? That sort of thing. It was an elective, and I still really believe this type of class should be required for students to prepare them for the real world they are about to enter.

I have been privileged to live in a time where I have witnessed the ascension of the first African-American, the first woman, and the first Latina to the Supreme Court (Marshall, Day O’Connor, and Sotomayor, respectively).

When I served jury duty, the cover of Time magazine was Chief Justice William Brennan who was retiring. He was one of my favorite justices and his court more than any other cemented my philosophy firmly on the liberal side of things, although I would characterize my views as less liberal and more founded in civil rights and equality.

I continued reading and studying the law throughout my life, and majored in political science/pre-law for two years of college. Constitutional Law was my favorite class, and I loved my professor who I had for all three of my law classes. I still have all of those textbooks and I’ve added The Law of Writing to my collection. My enthrallment has never subsided.

Until 2010 when he retired, for as long as I can remember, Justice John Paul Stevens has been a staple on the Supreme Court. As the Bush years passed, and the liberal wing was replaced by more conservative jurists, Justice Stevens remained stalwart, continuing the tradition of upholding the Constitution through law and not political partisanship. It is essential to remember that Justice Stevens was appointed by a Republican, President Gerald Ford as was Brennan (by President Dwight D. Eisenhower).

John Paul Stevens was the third longest serving justice on the Supreme Court. When he joined the Burger Court (soon to become the Brennan Court), I had just turned nine and for my entire life since, Stevens became a member of one of the most iconic groups of justices. While all generations have heroes to look up to and all Supreme Courts make important, life changing, country-wide decisions, I was blessed with the ability to follow the Supreme Court that included John Paul Stevens as well as his iconic colleagues.

Justice Stevens read briefs, and listened to oral arguments, deciding cases such as Hamdan v Rumsfield, Massachusetts v EPA, and dissenting on Citizens United v FEC and Bush v Gore as well as DC v Heller. Related to this case, he believes the 2nd Amendment should be readdressed, whether appealed or amended is still to see. He hasn’t been on the court in nearly a decade, but his voice will be missed in our world.

Rest in peace, Justice Stevens.

As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.
“Excerpts From Ruling on Internet: ‘Statute Abridges the Freedom of Speech'”. http://www.nytimes.com. June 27, 1997. 

Whenever we remove a brick from the wall that was designed to separate religion and government, we increase the risk of religious strife and weaken the foundation of our democracy.
Church & State Editorial, http://www.au.org. May 2010.

A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.
Dissenting, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010)

Preet Bharara had a lovely reflection on Justice Stevens

Justice John Paul Stevens – A Maverick on the Bench Dies at 99

Justice Stevens with Justice Elena Kagan, who took his place upon his retirement. Photo from Supreme Court government website. (c)2019

This Land – A New Podcast Series from Crooked Media

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Beginning tomorrow on Crooked Media is an eight episode podcast with Rebecca Nagle about two murders, a Supreme Court case and the land in Oklahoma. I can’t wait to hear what this journalist and Cherokee Nation citizen has to say about this compelling story.

You can subscribe now and then get notified when it’s available for download and listening. I’m already subscribed on PlayerFM, and can’t wait for it to be downloaded. 

Find it wherever you regularly get your podcasts.

​This is how Crooked Media describes it: 

“An 1839 assassination of a Cherokee leader. A 1999 small town murder. Two crimes collide in a Supreme Court case that will decide the fate of one man and nearly half of the land in Oklahoma. Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, Oklahoma journalist and citizen of Cherokee Nation, This Land traces how a cut and dry homicide opened up an investigation into the treaty rights of five Native American tribes. Tune in, beginning June 3rd to Crooked Media’s 8-episode series to find out how this unique case could result in the largest restoration of tribal land in US history when it answers one fundamental question: Who owns this land?”

This Land 

Election Reflection – 21 DAYS TIL MIDTERMS

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VOTE!

Vote Save America – check your registration. People are being purged and voters, especially minorities and Democratic voters are being suppressed. If Republicans had a message and could take the responsibility of governing, they wouldn’t need to cheat by suppressing legal voters from making their choices.

In Georgia, the Republican running against Stacey Abrams is also the Secretary of State of the state of Georgia, and is the one who validates the security and legitimacy of the election, including certifying the election. Currently, there are 53,000 voter registrations that are being held up. 70% of them are African-American voters.

Georgia Lawsuit is Latest…
The Supreme Court just ruled, merely a few weeks ahead of this year’s election that the North Dakota law requiring street addresses (rather than post office boxes) is legal and upheld. This disenfranchises many Native Americans voters, a voting group that primarily goes for the Democratic party. Living on reservations and on rural routes, the post office does not assign street addresses. This is significant.

Native Americans Decry Supreme Court Ruling on Voter ID in ND

Indiana is trying to purge voters in the weeks before this midterm election.

Federal Judge Blocks Indiana…

Again, I ask, what are Republican politicians afraid of?

We are still at risk from Russian election interference. Nothing has been fortified since the 2016 election that has been proved to have been compromised.

I’m worried.

You should be also.

Check your registration, drive your friends to the polls, and VOTE!

Dr. Ford and Justice for All

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​I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about these past two weeks than I normally would for a political rant, so maybe this isn’t exactly a rant or a venting, although the smoke is spiraling out of my ears, nostrils, and hair follicles and just like in the cartoons, I can hear the whistling.
To start, I want to state unequivocally that I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Judiciary Committee testimony in its entirety. Anyone who doubts her memory didn’t watch the testimony. She was incredibly careful and was clear to clarify her statements, and to say she didn’t know or didn’t remember if that was the case. She didn’t lose her temper or her composure despite the biased, some stupid questions from the Arizona prosecutor that the Judiciary Republicans hired (Senate Majority Leader McConnell called her a female assistant) because they couldn’t be human or decent to Dr. Ford.

Continue reading

Now What? The Testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

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​I planned my entire Thursday around Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. When I went out in the morning to grab something to eat, I listened to Senator Chuck Grassley’s opening remarks on the radio, and I was home in time for Senator Diane Feinstein’s. From that point on, I watched, without interruption.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t planned on watching Judge Kavanaugh’s, but I thought in the interest of fairness (and a cleared afternoon schedule), I decided that I would watch it live rather than wait for that evening’s analysis. Continue reading